Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chuckle

I've been visiting this blog for some time now. Jenn is going through a divorce and has such a refreshing way of looking at the world that I find myself drawn to her blog every day.

Anyway, just when we were grousing at home about the rubber check my ex sent my son last year for Christmas, Jenn posted this and I wanted to share it with you.


I'm feelin' kinda Grinchy....

...and for the moment, it doesn't have anything to do with The Idiot. I'm going to take a break from him for a moment and spend a little time talking about my father.

My parents got divorced when I was 7 - a long time ago. My dad took that as his permission to go ahead and forget his original family (us - me and my brother and sister) and have a new one.

Ok...I'll acknowledge it probably wasn't that simple and he probably tells a different story.

But since he doesn't tell it to me, I can only surmise that he's 'assy' as my sister says. He lives about 25 miles away from me and he's seen his only familial grand-daughter exactly 4 times. It's not a priority for him. Which makes me like him even less.

ANYhoo...I got my Christmas gift from him today - in the mail. It was mailed directly from the company off the internet. On the mailing label was my first name and my daughter's first name - as if it were one name. Also on the mailing label was the message 'Merry Christmas From Dad, (enter his wife's name), (enter his son's name)

Already, his thoughtfulness is noted.

BUT - it gets better. I open the box and it contains 8 pears. For which my gratitude will never end...you know...since you can't buy pears at the grocery store.

I know...you're thinking...no way! But it gets BETTER! Enclosed in the box is a pamphlet. I'll just type the first paragraph for you -

SO WHO'S PERFECT?

These Maverick Royal Riveria Pears didn't make it into the final round of judging in our beautiful fruit contest - but what a treat to eat! Some have been dappled by the sun or dinged by a summer hailstorm. And some just aren't very pear-shaped. In one way or another, each of them has gained some degree of "character" during the growing season.

My dad sent me rejected pears. Every one of them is bruised to some extent, one is leaking something, and a couple are turning into pear-raisins they're so old. Last year, at least his mail-order gift included cheese and some tea. It truly gets better and better.

I'm clearly his favorite though, because he didn't send anything to my brother or sister. (That fact is worse to me than the fact that he sent me rotten pears.) When I talked to my brother he had to get off the phone to 'shop' for our father's gift in his fridge. He was pretty sure there was something wrapped in old aluminum foil that would be perfect. My sister just guffawed.

As my good friend said - my father's thoughtfulness is utterly astonishing.

At least there's some humor to be found - I chuckle whenever I think about it.


And we thought a rubber check was bad...

After the holidays, I'll have time to sit and finish the epic saga. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Let it suffice to say that I've gotten a "get out of jail" card for my father and will be going down to bust him out of the VA Center tomorrow. He and his wife and her daughter will stay with us from tomorrow through Monday. I'll be sure and stock up on the wine tonight. I checked my Prozac prescription and I have ample to get me through.

With this, I'll likely be signing off until after Christmas -- Tuesday at the earliest.

My (our) best to all. Be safe. Be warm. Be forgiving. Give something of yourself.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Saddle Sore





Since last Monday, I've put more than 1,000 on my car -- and my ass. And I'm tired. And I'm behind at work. And I'm behind in my Christmas preparations.

My father is doing well -- more on that later.

Need to catch up, then I'll be back.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Make up your mind!


Now they think my father did actually have a stroke. They're supposed to have taken him in for doppler tests today to determine if there are any blockages in the carotid arter(ies). If there are, he must decide whether he wants them to surgically clean them, which would mean having to go to Buffalo for the surgery (110 miles from where he lives). He hated that hospital when he was there last month for his hernia surgery. I think the odds are good that he'll refuse the surgery just because he hated the hospital.

I spoke with Li last night (my "stepmother") and she said he was pretty damned nasty all day long. Of course, they told him that it was likely that he wasn't going to see much improvement in his condition other than what has manifested itself thus far. Which means that he'll be confined to a wheelchair or, at best, a walker. This is a man who, in his entire life, refused to be strapped down to any one or any thing. Always go, go, go, go, go -- and always on his terms.

Monday he was begging for help in quitting smoking, Tuesday he was screaming and cursing at everyone that he wanted to go outside for a smoke. I guess he figures if he's going to be an invalid, he might as well not worry about smoking if it wasn't going to net him what he wants. Mobility. Independence. Freedom.

My prediction for 2006 is that we'll be burying my father. For Li's sake, I'm hoping it'll be after February -- that's when she gets her green card. Otherwise, I'm afraid she might have to go back to Brazil. She doesn't want that, nor do we as we've all gotten quite attached to her.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Update

After an exhausting day yesterday, it appears that my father may not have had a stroke, in that they found no bleeding in the brain after doing CAT scans.

It's possible that his right carotid artery may be the culprit (causing disruption of blood flow to the brain, or causing bits of plaque to break off and float around, etc.) causing TIA's (mini-strokes). We believe (my aunt and I) that he's had several mini-strokes recently as he'll be walking along and all of a sudden just be on the floor, completely oblivious as to how he got there. They're apparently going to schedule him for doppler imaging of that carotid. He's in the VA Hospital down in Bath -- it's supposed to be pretty good there, but I was a bit concerned that while we were there (9:00 AM until 2:30) nobody came in to take vitals, follow up, talk to him (or the family) or do anything other than deliver a food tray. Getting information was like trying to get Clinton to admit to BJs in the White House.

It appears that they'll keep him for "a few days" but beyond that, and what I stated previously, we're pretty much in the dark regarding what they'll do long-term, or even short-term once (if) they do the doppler.

Until then, it's day by day. This is the last week of classes and next week is finals week so I'm expecting to be busier than a one-armed paper hanger...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Worried




My nephew called tonight. My father had a stroke.

His entire left side went numb and paralyzed. Apparently he was alert through it and knew what was going on. He knew enough to be scared, and had his wife call for help. She called the only person she knew to call -- my Aunt Wanda. Wanda arrived in short time, took charge, and took no lip. When he objected to 911 being called, Wanda basically told him to shut the hell up, stayed on with the 911 dispatch, and sent him off in an ambulance.

Apparently he's alert, has use of all his left side except for his left leg. He's had several bypasses done on that leg so that's no huge surprise to me.

Taking tomorrow (Monday) off, and going down to pick up my aunt, stick by my stepmother, visit my father, and generally see what use I can be. Don't know what this week will shape up to look like so, if I don't check in anytime soon, it'll probably be because it's not good news.

Send some positive vibes my father's way. Long story but let it suffice to say that I'm not nuts at all about the thought of losing a father I've only known for less than 20 years -- and the only parent who pays any attention to me -- well, I'm a bit bummed.

More as it becomes available.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Can you pass 8th grade math?

You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Remember, guys. Just because you HAVE one, doesn't mean
you have to BE one.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Humpity hump hump

Get your mind out of the gutter!

It's hump day -- middle of the week. I'm feeling amazingly well. I've slept well recently, with no indicators of limb movements or other maladies that have kept me from getting a restful sleep (or, as Lindsay Wagner says on the sleep number bed commercial, a "recuperative" sleep).

We got the Christmas tree out and set it up Monday night, but didn't decorate. Lisa is one of those anal types that has to spread out the branches, each and every one, so that it looks real and full. Whatever blows your skirt up, honey.

We rearranged the family room, giving it what we feel is a more "homey" look. That night after we rearranged, we saw Joe sitting on the couch for the first time since...since...since I can't remember when. We plan to have this the main staging area for people on Christmas day. There will be two couches, a recliner and an overstuffed armchair in there (the room is 15x22), as well as the Christmas tree and the television. Everything is set up around the fireplace in the center of the outside wall, and we're planning on having a fire burning on Christmas day. It should be quite festive and cozy, I think.

The second couch and recliner will come from the upstairs living room, where we'll have two six foot tables set up for dinner for 15 people. We bought "stuff" to decorate the dinner tables with -- confetti, Santa & Mrs. Claus salt & pepper shakers, minature sleds to put in the center to hold butter, salt & pepper, napkins, etc. Once upon a time I couldn't have cared less about this sort of thing but, with Lisa's childlike pleasure of all things Christmas, you can't help but get into it yourself. I told her the other night that I haven't enjoyed Christmas so much since the kids learned the big bad secret.

Saturday night is her company Christmas party. I'm extremely flattered that everyone at work, including her boss, insisted that I make my party meatballs -- extremely flattered, but they're so much work! It's not the work itself that bothers me, it's the time it takes away from other things I really need to get done. What the heck, I don't do anything constructive between midnight and 6:00 AM, right?

Joe's on a 13 hour day today. Seven hours installing Christmas lights at private residences and six hours cutting, baling, and loading Christmas trees into peoples' cars. He's making $10/hour these days so it doesn't upset him terribly that he's working so many hours. It's only another two weeks before he'll be laid off for the season anyway, until sometime in late February or early March. Gotta make what you can when you can...

It's snowing. They're calling for 2-4 inches this evening and overnight. Lightweight stuff around here, but there are parts of the country where this would literally paralyze a city and shut it right down. I remember going to Fort Meade, MD one year in January to evaluate a training system and, the morning after we'd arrived, it had snowed just a couple of inches, but everything was shut down tighter than a drum. Traffic was at a dead stop and the sound of wheels spinning on pavement filled the air. Around here, 2-4 inches is just nothing to fret about other than whether the kid gets the driveway shoveled so it doesn't melt and then freeze again. An hour and a half south of us, however, where my oldest daughter lives, is under a winter storm watch/warning, with accumulations of 7 inches overnight possible. That's not even enough to shut down schools but it's enough to mess up traffic for the long-distance commuters. This storm is expected to dump a serious load of snow on the southern tier of NY, most of PA, WV and MD, and the northern parts of VA. New York and PA will stay open for business, but WV, MD, and VA will likely close right down.

Now, if you live in an area where it snows a lot, you're probably thinking "Stupid southerners, scared of a little snow," but it's not even that. Those areas typically don't have snow removal equipment because, with the little bit that it does snow, it doesn't warrant or justify the expenditure of funds to purchase that snow removal equipment. If the roads aren't maintained during a snowfall, they're dangerous and it's just easier to shut them down than to have to respond to the bazillions of fender benders that would result.

In Colorado, they don't plow the roads when it snows. They merely salt and gravel the roads -- I don't get why they do that, but they do. It's stupid and dangerous and the trucks that salt/gravel the roads have PLOWS on the front side! Must just be for show... hehe

Even after I sent the paperwork for my ex-husband's bankruptcy filing to the Child Support Enforcement Unit in Albany, I see from my online account that it didn't affect the withholding from his pay one bit. The sucker's still coughing up $750/month to pay the support and arrears, as well as whatever it costs to provide Joe with a single person health insurance policy. Had he just talked to me when he just up and quit paying, I'd have worked something out with him. But no, he had to just take a "fuck you" attitude and dare me to come after him. Back then, he was paying $560.30 a month for support and health insurance. It's almost double that now because of his arrogance. Merry Christmas, asshole... Perhaps he'll send Joe a pre-paid gift card or cash this year, instead of a rubber check like he did last year. Whatta schmuck. No, I'm not bitter or anything....

I haven't been to Curves in two weeks now. Thanksgiving got in the way, and then I had a visit from my little red-headed cousin who hasn't visited in almost 6 months. And it was the visit from hell, requiring me to stay home from work one day, sucking down Advil to slow down the bleeding, and keeping my feet up. She stayed for 10 days. Bitch. I've gained back a pound and a half, but I'm not too worried about that. Call it menstrual weight gain, call it inactivity, whatever, but I'm sure I'll drop it right back off. I'll start going back to Curves on Monday, at least 3 times a week.

I've had some unsettling dreams the past few nights. Not nightmares, just unsettling dreams about my mother and my long-deceased grandparents. Not sure what that means, and maybe it just doesn't mean anything more than that they've been on my mind (consciously or subconsciously) this holiday season. It might just be an after-effect of Michelle (my oldest) telling me about an encounter she had with my estranged sister and her son.

My mother will be 72 in February. It's been almost 12 years since I last spoke to her, when she up and moved to Florida without so much as a goodbye, up yours, or anything else. The last time I saw her, she didn't recognize me (it'd been a couple of years since I'd seen her). What mother doesn't know her own offspring that she raised? There has always been dysfunction there and, for the bulk of my adulthood, I let it eat a hole through me. It was always me that called, wrote, or visited. It was like the post office, phone company, and highways only went in one direction. When she left in 1994, I cried, I raged against her, I wailed, I mourned, and then I let go of her. I guess the reason these recent dreams have gotten me so unsettled is that they may just mean that I've not let go of her in the way I think I had. Perhaps there will always be a little girl inside of me that still wants her mom in her life. I don't know, but I'm not going to waste any more of my life grieving over what could have been or what still could be.

Tonight I think we're going to have some leftover spaghetti for dinner, then we'll work on decorating the tree and, of course, Lisa will start putting decorations all over the house. I'm rather looking forward to it, and fully intend to go out to the wood shed and get a load of wood so that we can have a fire going while we decorate. Maybe I'll cast off my "humbug" dislike of Christmas music and even put some of that on while we work.

*EGAD* I'm out of wine! Better shut down and stop off at the liquor store on my way home -- can't have a decorating plan that doesn't involve wine, right?

Best to all! Hunker down, stay warm, drive safely, and watch for deer!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Trying something new

As you'll notice, I've changed the blog so that it archives after every post. That's so, if I want to share something with sound, there won't be a cacophany of noise with all the audios competing with each other.

Without further adieu...

For Lisa -- the love of my life...




Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thankful to be home

Gosh it's good to be home. Yes, we had a really good time, but it's always good to go back home, sleep in our own bed, love on our cats, vegetate on the couch, or whatever. Normal. I love "normal."

We took off Wednesday about 3:00 and, for the most part, had a very uneventful trip to Lisa's parents' home. We arrived there just about 7:00, after having stopped in Elmira for scones and coffee. I was a bit on edge because we had no idea how her father was going to act/behave. He'd recently had a carotid artery roto-rootered, and a pacemaker installed. It was a 50/50 shot that he'd be nasty, complaining, and self-absorbed, or he could just be pleasant. As luck would have it, he's feeling so good from the surgeries, he was pleasant, jovial, and enjoyable to be around. I was very grateful for that!

Lisa's mom had just taken ham and bean soup off the stove, so we sat down and enjoyed a hearty bowl of soup, and chatted until about 10, when Mom begged off for the night, blaming exhaustion. This woman had open heart surgery and a carotid artery roto-rootered this past May, and isn't back to 100% yet, either. We were up early the next morning, peeling potatoes, making salads, and generally helping to prepare the dinner. Folks started arriving around noon and, by the time we sat down for dinner, there were seventeen people there. After dinner, and after we'd cleaned up, some of us headed upstairs for the spare bedroom (read: spare TV) and turned on the Atlanta/Detroit football game. After that was the Denver/Dallas game (I'd picked Dallas to win in our pool) -- we all had a great time hanging out, watching football, busting each others' chops here and there, and just generally doing what families do. Just before the game ended, Lisa's mother came upstairs with a bowl, with small pieces of paper in it. The "Kris Kringle" drawing. Imagine my delighted surprise when she shoved that bowl in front of me, with a huge grin, and said "Pick a name."

Lisa later told me that her mother had mentioned a conversation they'd had last year and Lisa's wish that I be included. Mom told Lisa that she'd have to ask all the siblings if that was okay. I'm very proud of the fact that I bit my tongue, holding back the argument "Did they survey the family each time one of your siblings got married?" Baby steps forward, in our minds, are way better than giant steps backwards. And, while the "sentiment" of canvassing the family for their feelings on it is very much like the conservative right wanting Americans to vote on whether our relationships should be recognized, the intention behind it is different. They're just handling it in the only way that they can. What's important is that, by including me in the name draw, they're acknowledging our relationship as valid and important.

Friday morning we headed out to an open house Lisa's aunt (on her bio father's side) was having at her store. We picked up Lisa's sister and then her niece (she's 15). Emily (the niece) was craving a "girls' day out" and we set out to not disappoint.

We knew we were in trouble the second we walked into the place, because it's *our* kind of place. But, we behaved (sort of) and spent only 20 dollars or so. Then we went to a few other antique/craft stores right there in the same village, then decided it was time for lunch. As soon as we got to the restaurant, Lisa's mom and I decided we need to use the little girls' room. I went to deposit my coat at the booth first and, as I returned to the restroom area, I saw Mom shoving the door shut behind some woman. I fell in line behind her and, as we waited outside the restroom in the little hallway, she told me that, as the restroom emptied out and she was ready to go in, this other woman came from nowhere, berating Mom and haughtily exclaiming that she'd "been waitingt" to use the bathroom -- apparently from over at the counter. Mom wasn't amused at all with the woman but kept her cool, somewhat. Then, when the woman came out and saw two of us there, in her haughty tone she said "Well, I guess I'd better get my daughter." Mom asked testily "Is she standing in line somewhere too?" I nearly peed myself trying not to laugh at the whole scene. People can be so damned rude, can't they?

Home by mid-afternoon, we just sat around and chatted (I knitted). Saturday we went and did a little bit of shopping (at Gertrude Hawke's -- YUM!) We decided to stay away from the mall (for obvious reasons) and just shopped within that little plaza. We had a good time with Lisa's mom, then went home and then over to Lisa's grandparents.

Now, you have to understand, I absolutely adore Lisa's grandparents. Grandma Ruth is 91, as is Grandpa Karl. (Grandpa Karl hustled right on over to me and gave me a big hug -- which sort of surprised Lisa.) Oh sure, they've got their infirmities but they're just as sharp as tacks, mentally. And, since Grandma Ruth had her pacemaker put in, she looks better, she has more energy and, with that energy, she was pretty fiesty in conversation. She had me in tears laughing so hard. Gosh, those two can remember who married who in every town within a 50 mile radius. And they tell stories from their past. At one point we got to talking about George Burns and how he'd lived past 100 years. Grandma Ruth quietly said "I don't want to live to be 100." I asked her why not and she said "I don't want to lose it." I think this poor woman has been worried about becoming mentally incapable all along. I don't think the physical limitations have bothered her nearly as much as the thought of mental limitations. I told her that, from all the reading I'd done, mental activity staves off dementia. They're always doing word puzzles, crossword puzzles, and logic problems. They read a ton, too. I told her that I'd bet an entire year's pay that, if she didn't have Alzheimer's or dementia by now, she wasn't going to.

When we got ready to leave, Grandma Ruth gave me a big hug and told me "We love you too, you know." It was the first time she'd ever said anything like that to me and, not only was Lisa terribly pleased, but I was humbled by their openness and caring.

I lost my grandparents more than 25 years ago. My grandmother died in October of 1979 and my grandfather quickly followed her in January. They were only in their late 60s and, while they've been gone for half of my life, I still remember them as being a large part of my life when I was a little kid. I guess Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Karl sort of fill that void for me. I just adore them.

We left PA Sunday morning and arrived home just shortly after the opening kickoff for the football games. We ordered a pizza for dinner around 4:00 and just sort of sat like toads blinking at the television for the remainder of the evening. Our bed felt SOOO good that night!

Menopause, my achin' ass!
It was tough getting back into a rhythm of going to work again. I felt pretty *blech* yesterday -- tired, disinterested, achy, had a nasty headache in my eyes, stiff neck and shoulders. It occurred to me that these were flu-type symptoms but I've never had the flu so I doubted I was coming down with anything. Later in the day I realized that my lower back was feeling a lot of pressure and I had *that* discomfort in the lower left side of my abdomen. I commented to Lisa that my body was, in every way, acting like it had every intention of having a period. Sure enough, this morning, I started a period. Major bummer. Haven't had one since July and was sort of getting used to the good feeling of not having them and not having to worry about them. More importantly, though, earlier this month I'd had my FSH levels tested and they tested at a level that would indicate post-menopause. I was told that, at this point, any bleeding should be considered abnormal and to call if I experienced any. So, I'm waiting for the doctor to call me tomorrow to see what she wants me to do. I told the nurse that it really acts just like a plain old monthly period and nothing more. *shrug* She said that it's likely the doctor will want to do an endometrial biopsy -- but hey! I just had one done (along with a D&C) in April!

It's Christmas time in the city...
We're tentatively planning to get out all the Christmas decorations tonight and begin putting them up. Lisa is SUCH a Christmas kid and she loves to go all out on decorating the house -- inside and out. But, between you and me.....it's infectious. I've taken more interest in decorating since Lisa's been with me than I ever did even when the kids were little. We're planning on rearranging the living room to make it "cozier" and to make room for our couch from upstairs to be moved down there for the holiday dinner.

We're going to have 15 hinies to park at dinner tables, not to mention that they'll need someplace to park before and after dinner. We decided last night we'd ask Mary if she has any chairs we can borrow. Other than that, we're at a total loss as to what we'll do. I guess we should have thought of that BEFORE we invited a dozen guests, eh?

I guess I should get something done here at work -- these greedy bastards actually expect me to WORK for my paycheck. Imagine that! The nerve of some people....

Laugh for the day

A man and his wife were sitting in the living room and he said to her, "Just so you know, I never wanna live in a vegetative state, dependant on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."

His wife got up, unplugged the TV, and threw out all of his beer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving



We woke up this morning to a snow covered world. We only got a couple of inches, but it was clearly quite wet, as it was clinging to the trees and brush growing alongside the highway. It made for a picturesque drive in.

We'll be leaving today sometime around 2:30 to make the 4 hour drive to PA. We're supposed to continue getting snow and, in some parts around here, they're actually calling for up to a foot of lake-effect snow. Oddly enough, with the lake-effect snows, we could get a small dusting and just 20 miles away they could get clobbered. Mostly the parts to the immediate east of us get a lot of accumulation when we don't.

It's supposed to start snowing again this afternoon and they're telling folks that, if they're planning to travel by automobile for the holiday to get started by this afternoon, as they're expecting things to be quite messy this afternoon.

We're getting out early for that very reason. Unfortunately, Joe has to work until 5:00 and from there he'd planned to come home, shower, change, pack and leave for Bath afterward. It's only 90 miles to the south of us, but they're supposed to get the snow, too. There's an area about halfway between here and there where the interstate is highly exposed at a higher elevation and there tends to be blowing and drifting snow right in the roadway.

Joe has a Blazer, full-sized, with all the bells and sirens. Unfortunately, he found out in late summer that his 4WD was out. A couple of weeks ago he said his heater didn't work anymore, either. So, does he take his vehicle in to get it serviced? Hell no. He's "too busy." In his defense, he nevr has a day to himself. He works Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and has classes on Tuesday and Thursday. And, like any typical young-adult, he's blissfully unaware of the ramifications of not maintaining a vehicle when it's not working properly. For example, it never occurred to him that not having a heater was more than an inconvenience that affected his comfort. I asked him how he planned on defrosting his windshield on a freezing day. I also asked him how he thought his engine would stay cooled on a long road trip, like the one he's planning today. Without the heater/AC functioning properly, it's highly probable that it will affect the cooling of his engine (been there, done that...it made a 6 hour trip into a 20 hour trip with the vehcile constantly overheating).

So, last night Lisa handed him the keys to her own truck and, in her best imitation "Mom" delivery, told him that she wasn't giving him the keys to her truck for him, but that she was giving them to him for me so that I wouldn't worry as much about him. (Her truck also has 4WD.) She also firmly impressed upon him that, if he decided he wasn't going to make the drive to Bath, her truck wasn't to leave the driveway. I think Joe was quite surprised by Lisa's offer and we both know Joe well enough to trust that her truck will sit unused if he decides to stay home after all.

Joe and I chatted briefly after that about maintaining his vehicle and I planted the seed that he should be looking around for a new vehicle -- when you buy a used vehicle, you're buying someone else's problems. And this Blazer has been a money pit for that kid. A year after he bought it, he took it in for inspection and the quote to get it through inspection was $1200. There was still $350 worth of repairs that needed to be made that weren't required for the inspection. It cost him $400 to get it through inspection this year as well and that $350 worth of repairs from last year? They still need to be made (oil leak around the cooling lines). I honestly think that if he has a new vehicle, he'll be more conscientious about maintenance, especially since most dealerships around here offer either free or reduced rate oil changes for the first two years of ownership of a new vehicle.

As we snuggled into our bed last night, and I curled up against Lisa's back, she asked me if I was nervous about going to her parents' house for the holiday. I'm not sure what brought that on, other than the fact that she may think that I'm nervous about being around her father (long story). I told her I wasn't at all concerned about her father but that I was concerned about the fact that I suspect they'll do the name draw for Christmas while we're down there and whether they'll include me (as an official recognition of our relationship). She groaned and agreed that it would likely occur -- now it's on her mind a lot, too. If I'm not included, that means there's a confrontation that will occur -- something nobody looks forward to. So, keep your fingers and toes and eyes crossed that her family will take that step.

Have a festive and safe holiday -- I'll be back on Monday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ROFL!

Some lawmakers have nothing better to do...
"NOBODY DIED WHEN CLINTON LIED"

How many times have you heard that said? The "moral" conservatives called for impeachment, censure, and all sorts of action against Clinton for getting a blow job in the White House. Where's this same group of assholes now?

WALGREENS

I heard an advertisement on the radio this morning calling for a full boycott of a new Walgreens going in not too far from where I live. The boycott apparently revolves around Walgreens' refusal to hire local contractors and/or employees in both the construction and day-to-day operation of the new store. They're apparently bringing in people from out-of-state. I've never heard a public ad calling for a total boycott of a business. When WalMart came in here several years ago, they refused to stock Kodak film -- in a city where Kodak is THE major employer. They sold only Fuji film at the time. There were various letters to the editor and articles about boycotting WalMart and, surprisingly, WalMart started stocking Kodak film...at least around here. Walgreens apparently didn't do their research into the local job culture. With Kodak having layoffs again recently, and Xerox laying off, and Bausch & Lomb laying off, as well as General Motors' announcement to shut down some of their facilities, I don't think they really have much of a clue when they refuse to hire anyone local. But, perhaps the plan is to have the store fail, and use it as a tax write-off.

ENDANGERING A CHILD?

In a local news story, a 3 year old girl survived a rollover crash, and remained in the vehicle for eight hours before it was found. The driver of the vehicle was thrown from it, and died as a result of the crash. The vehicle apparently rolled over several times and was crumpled in from the roof down, but the child was in an approved safety seat and wasn't crushed.

The 20 year old driver was the boyfriend of the child's 20 year old mother. He had gone on an errand with the little girl and, when they failed to return after a reasonable amount of time, the police were called. The litle girl's paternal grandparents found the wreckage, and the girl.

She has some cuts and bruises, and her little arm is broken in two places but, other than that, she's in good shape and has been released from the hospital.

Yesterday, the police charged the mother with endangering a child's welfare and permitting unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Apparently, the boyfriend's license had been suspended in 2002 due to a medical condition (possibly seizures, they said this morning on the news).

Maybe I'm only thinking one-dimensionally but here's what I don't get. In New York State, when your license is suspended for medical reasons, you still possess the little card. You've been sent a letter from DMV saying you can't drive, but they don't require that the license be surrendered until there's a final resolution on your ability to drive. Often, there's a periodic update required from the attending physician or others who have knowledge of the person's ability to drive. So, when you started dating your S.O., did you check to see if he/she was in possession of a valid driver's license? Did you refuse to believe that actual possession of the license meant it was valid, and call the DMV to see if it really was valid? It seems to me that the people who really need to be charged with endangering children always seem to avoid those charges so the D.A.'s office hangs them on some everyday schmuck who's doing the best they can, honestly.

Even the little girl's paternal grandparents refused to talk badly about the mother (not the parents of the driver that was killed). They said "For a 20-year-old, Courtney has always done a very good job with Britain." What's to be gained by charging this young mother in this tragedy? What's to be gained by holding her responsible for her boyfriend's irresponsibility? I don't get it. The cops say she knew he didn't possess a valid license, yet she claims she didn't know. While the endangering charge is only a misdemeanor without any real consequence, she could lose custody of that little girl as a result of this.

VIDEO GAME ADDICTIONS

I'm sure we're not alone, but last night people spent the night (in the cold and rain) on the sidewalk outside places like Best Buy, Electronics Boutique and WalMart in order to buy a new X-Box 360 (price range, $300-400). Maybe I'm getting old but, if you've got to spend the night outside freezing your noogies off in the rain in order to buy an overpriced TOY, you need to get a life. Or grow up. Or both.

LAUGH OF THE DAY

Mrs. Wilson appeared before the judge in a divorce action.

"How old are you?" asked the judge.

"Thirty-five," said Mrs. Wilson.

The judge noted her greying hair and wrinkled cheeks. "May I see your birth certificate?"

She handed the judge her birth certificate.

"Madam," he said severely, "according to this certificate you are not 35 but 50."

"Your honor," replied Mrs. Wilson, "the last 15 years I spent with my husband I'm not counting. You call that a life?"

*ba-dump bump*

Guess that makes me.........................somewhere around 40 or so.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Have you ever seen the Fox show Family Guy?

If you're looking for ways to be offended or appalled, then don't bother, but if you just want to see some raucous, irreverent fun, tune in to the Family Guy.

If you watch it, then you'll know who Stewie is. Currently, Stewie is Joe's (my son) latest "idol." Stewie rocks, that's for sure.

So, I had a hard time deciding between two t-shirts I found:




I decided on the one on the left because, while Joe loves Stewie's 'tude, he also has a sense of what's appropriate and what's not in public. I'd like to get a poster or desk sign of the one on the right for when the faculty comes in and pisses me off, however.

I'm down another half pound, making a total of 9.5 lbs. in just a bit shy of 6 weeks. My goal is simply one pound per week, but I'll take whatever I can get! The goal was to lose all the excess weight by our anniversary next July 4th weekend. At the pace I'm keeping, and assuming that I stay on pace (which, realistically, probably won't happen because people "plateau" on weight loss efforts more often than not), I can reach the goal by early May. Just in time to wear shorts again -- not so bad. I nearly choked at Curves on my first night when they measured me, and calculated my body fat at *ulp* 36.7%! 60 lbs. of me is pure fat.

While I've fallen short of my goal of an average of 10,000 steps per day, I've still had many days with more than 10,000 steps, once in excess of 15,000. I'm continuing to strive for that 10,000 a day, while at the same time going to Curves no less than 3 times per week. This week is going to be tough with Thanksgiving and all, but I extracted a pledge from Lisa that she'd go walking with me while we're in Pennsylvania for the holidays. Her parents have a HUGE, STEEP hill immediately behind their house, and I think that would be quite the challenge to go up and down a few times. The Curves in her hometown won't be open Friday. Bummer.

Denver shut out the Jets yesterday. They've really become a very talented team -- not at all what their first game of the season suggested we could expect. Plummer remains 7th overall among the current starting quarterbacks, with a QB rating over 90. Denver kept the ball offensively for 45 out of 60 minutes. That's how you win games...

But the game of the week was Indianapolis and Cincinnati. 62 total points scored by halftime -- an NFL record. But, while it was an extremely exciting game, with very few points separating the two teams at any given time, I think that both teams might want to take a good, long look at defense. Both teams gave up more than 300 yards defensively -- with a combined total of 700 yards of offense between the two of them. Indie needs to specifically concentrate on the run defense -- having given up 150+ rushing yards to Cincinnati.

The way I see it is that, if Indie can get past Pittsburgh next week, and San Diego in week 16, they've got a really, really, really good shot at finishing up the season unbeaten.

The area in PA where Lisa's parents lives is expecting up to 7 inches of snow between tomorrow morning and tomorrow night. Snow seems to be on the menu for us here, too, but all they're saying for sure for the moment is 1-3 inches tomorrow. Snow is in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday (Friday, too), but they're saying it's too early yet to tell how much. I'm a bit anxious about it, as we're supposed to drive down to PA on Wednesday and Joe will be traveling down to Bath to spend the holiday with his sister on the same night. I think he said he was planning on trying to come back on Thursday but, without knowing how much snow, if any, is expected, I'm not really thrilled about his traveling any more than I am our own. Going down to PA also brings travel through the mountains -- curving, winding, treacherous roads.

We'll take our emergency kits, snow boots, stuff like that in case we end up having to walk for any reason. We have space blankets in our vehicles, too.

Lisa got up this morning tired, but much better than she's been for a long time. Taking Friday off "sick" did her a world of good. She's never done anything like that before and now realizes the value of taking a "mental health" day here and there. I'm such a bad influence on her!

I've been doing much better lately since I started taking a sleep aid on Tuesday nights. I seem to sleep the night through without my limbs jumping around and I'm rested for mid-week. On weekends, I just stay in bed until I'm "slept out" so I don't really think that once-a-week sleeping pills are going to hurt me all that much.

My youngest daughter called me Friday night. I was stunned, surprised, and pleased. We chatted for the better part of 3 hours. I chatted with my grandson, who is quite the jabber jockey on the phone (he comes honestly by it, with his mother). We didn't talk about the rift that had grown between us, just chatted. It was nice. I think Linda missed her mom, although I doubt she'd ever admit it.

My father's surgery Friday took longer than expected, also. He went in for a hernia operation (he'd had one or two before), and they said they took lots and lots of scar tissue out. He's been a bastard (no big surprise) from the pain and nicotine withdrawal. I figure that, as soon as they get him up walking, he's going to be outside smoking. Hopefully he'll feel better before they're due to come up to my place for Christmas.

Lisa and I went goofy buying stuff for Christmas dinner. We went to Party City and got confetti for the table, as well as bendable figures of Santa, reindeer and snowmen that I thought would be cute holding place cards. We got a couple of red table cloths to put on either side of the green one we already have, as we're going to have to put two 6 ft. tables end-to-end for this dinner. Dinner that day will include Michelle and Doug and their three kids, my aunt Wanda and her husband, my father and his wife and step-daughter, the three of us, and Mary. Fourteen people -- more than I've ever had before. I'm really psyched!

We made Lisa's cranberry salad yesterday -- I ground up the apples and cranberries while she peeled, washed and picked out the bad ones. It's her family's tradition, that Lisa makes a huge, gigantic bowl of this stuff, and takes it down.

I suspect that, over the weekend, they'll be drawing names for Christmas, too. Last year, even though Lisa was completely "out" to her family, they didn't include me in the name draw, claiming that it would be too "confusing" for the children and they didn't know how to tell them. Seems to me that, with the youngest being 12, it's not going to be all that confusing provided there's some compelling need to stand up and make an announcement that "Pat is included this year in the name draw because your Aunt Lisa is gay and she and Pat are a couple." Seems to me that the name draw can occur and, IF anyone has any questions, they can ask them. Otherwise, can't they just draw their own conclusions?

I was furious last year, that they didn't include me. Not because I wanted to get presents or anything like that, but because of the message it sent. I flatly refused to spend the holidays in PA when Lisa was due to go down. I told her that, until they recognized our relationship as one that didn't need to be "hidden" or whispered about, or even ignored, that I didn't see any point in going down. She went down alone last year, because I told her it was completely OK with me if she went because she needed to actually tell her mother and father that we'd been married. After all, how can they "get it" with regard to our relationship if Lisa doesn't help them "get it?"

I don't want the holidays to be a stressful time for Lisa, but we need to get this straightened out because it will always continue to be something between us until it IS straightened out.

Time will tell...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Down Time

I’m staying home today. My legs have jumped all over the place throughout most of the night for the past 3 nights. I’m exhausted to the point where I don’t give a rip about much of anything that should be important. I feel hung over, and my sinuses are acting up. I decided I’d call in today and just lay low. Maybe I’ll lie down and take a nap later in the day. It’s going to be a long wait until January 16th for that sleep clinic appointment.

Weird

We’ve had such bizarre weather lately that you really have to wonder about the veracity of the claims of global warming. One day we’ll be in the 60s or 70s, the next we’ll be in the 40s or 30s. This morning, at 6:30 it was 70 degrees, tying the record high for the date in 1928. However, that was to be our high for the day as right now (9:40 AM) it is down to 50 and expected to drop still more, into the lower 40s. Later tonight, sometime after midnight, it’s supposed to snow. From 70 degrees to snow, all in a 24 hour period. How’s THAT for “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes?”

There are still trees and shrubs with leaves on them – one of our dappled willows out front is still very leafy. The mums are still beautifully colored and the grass is still green. We’ve had frost that has killed off all of the annuals and most of the perennials, but still winter seems unable to get a firm hold.

We’ve had tremendous winds and storms recently, too. In the past week, we’ve had at least 4 or 5 days with high wind advisories – wind gusts up to 50 mph. We had a couple of thunderstorms that spawned tornado advisories, one bringing lima bean sized hail. We currently have 22 mph winds and our windmill out front is just whirling away. The clouds are racing across the sky like something you’d see in one of those horror films. There’s no sun, and the skies are just as gray and dismal as they can be.

Put down the crack pipe

When I started in my current job eleven years ago, there was a woman who worked for me (we’ll call her Wilma for the sake of privacy). Wilma had three small kids at home, and one son from a previous marriage that was just entering college. She was going through a divorce – proceedings that eventually lasted the better part of 10 years. During the time she worked with me, she met another man who eventually began to live with her. She worked for me for about three years, maybe four, before she moved to a different position with a higher pay rating. It was a huge promotion for her, and a tremendous opportunity.

Wilma’s life revolved around her three young kids. At the time I began working there, they were 3, 5 and 6. She was very active with them, participating in girl scouting activities with the two girls, and sports with the boy. She worked her ass off to make a decent life for them with what limited resources she earned on her own and received from her deadbeat ex. She was a good mom.

A year or so after she left my department I saw her and was amazed at how good she looked. She’d clearly “upgraded” her wardrobe to reflect the higher level of her position and the type of job she had, and she’d lost a considerable amount of weight. She looked GREAT!

I last saw/chatted with her maybe a year ago. She still looked really good and told me she’d finally dumped that dead weight (boyfriend), had moved from the old marital home and was now living closer to work. The kids were great and everything seemed good.

Two weeks ago, I heard that Wilma was missing. Yes, outright missing. Nobody at work had seen nor heard from her in almost 2 weeks. Rumor had it that her disappearance revolved around drugs somehow. I was stunned at the news of her disappearance, but adamantly refused to believe that Wilma would involve herself (and by proxy her kids) in drugs. I’d have believed alcoholism or that she’d gone home with some guy she just met and something bad happened, but not drugs. Wilma’s three kids were living in three separate environments. The oldest (17 and pregnant) with her father, the middle one (16) with his half brother (the oldest one from the previous marriage, who is now 30) and the youngest (14) with Wilma’s elderly parents.

That Friday, she was finally located – in a crack house on the lakefront. She apparently wasn’t ready to come home yet.

I’m stunned. Just……..stunned.

Wilma has 30 years in the civil service system, and is 50 years old (turned 50 last month). She had 5 years to go before she was eligible for full retirement and, given her years of service, it would have been a very handsome retirement package. Now, it’s all in jeopardy – her family, her job, her future. And, if she doesn’t seek help, she could well end up living under the aqueduct with the rest of the forgotten souls of the street.

Old

Lisa’s cat (Tigga) is almost 16 years old now. She’s overweight (I’ve often referred to her as the walking coffee table, or even “Jabba the Hut”), having once tipped the scales at 23 lbs. We got her down to 18 lbs. about a year ago and I suspect she’s put a little bit of weight back on, but for the most part, I’m optimistic that she’s not gained it all back. But lately the poor thing lurches when she walks, and needs a stool to get up on her favorite spot on the couch. Over the weekend, she huddled under the computer table, not seeming right at all. With the constant change in weather recently, I know *I* hurt here and there, in my bad knee and my two bad fingers, so it stands to reason that this old girl might have some discomfort, too. So, I did some research online and found that baby aspirin is appropriate to give a cat – 5 mg. for each pound of body weight. It turns out that baby aspirin is 81 mg. of buffered aspirin and, when you consider that she weighs just a bit more than 16 pounds, it was a good dosage. So, we went to PetCo on Saturday and picked up a product called “Joint Plus” that contains Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Manganese, vitamin C and vitamin E. This product supports healthy hip and joint function and, based on my experience with Glucosamine products, it also is a bit of an anti-inflammatory as well. Next we went to Kmart and picked up some St. Joseph’s Aspirin for children.

We were pleased, but not all that surprised, that Tigga took the Joint Plus without any fuss. It’s supposedly tuna flavored, and she sees it as a treat. So, just for giggles, I put the orange flavored, chewable baby aspirin down for her. She sniffed, gave me a look like “You don’t really think I’m going to take this alone, do you?” So I put down two treats for her, on either side of the aspirin, and she did her Hoover imitation, vacuuming up everything there. This is how she takes that aspirin now – what a hoot!

BUT, she’s moving better, she actually RAN to the food dish this morning, her eyes seem brighter, and she’s been a bit frisky/feisty in the past couple of days. We’ll discontinue the aspirin today and see how she does with the just the Joint Plus. But we’re very pleased with the results so far. She’ll stay on the initial double dose for 6 weeks, then she’ll be reduced to a single dose each day for maintenance. I was beginning to fear that we were going to have that “quality of life” conversation – something Lisa just can’t bear to have. For now, it looks like we dodged that bullet.

Broncos

How about those Denver Broncos? 7-2 on the season so far following a sound defeat of division rivals Oakland Raiders. It’s no secret that Lisa is a Raiders fan, so you can imagine the good natured tension in the house this past Sunday.

Early in the season, Jake Plummer’s stats were anemic, unimpressive, and laughable. Now, he’s become a quarterback with legitimate standing in the NFL, ranked 7th overall with a 93.5 rating on the season, and only 3 picks. Now if he can just stay healthy. The Broncos take on the 2-7 Jets this weekend at Invesco Field.

Peyton Manning (another favorite) is still undefeated this season. They’ll match up against the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend, on the road, and don’t let yourself think that this will be a cake walk. This years Bengals team is HOT and HUNGRY to be the team that ruins Indie’s unbeaten record. I think we can easily say that this will be the game of the week.

Thought for the day

One is forever throwing away substance for shadows.--Jennie Jerome Churchill

Monday, November 14, 2005

Joe called me Friday afternoon while I was still at work and told me that his boss had given him the entire weekend off and did I have any problem with him going to Cortland for the weekend?

"Why do you think you need my permission to go?" I asked.

"I didn't feel like I needed your permission, I just wanted to make sure you didn't have anything special planned." Such a great kid -- very conscientious. Boy, I tell ya, if I could figure out what I did with that young man, I'd package it and sell it and make bazillions of dollars. He and his buddy, Josh, left just as I got home from work. Josh was stowing a 30-pack of something in the back of Joe's Blazer, and Joe was protesting the quality of the beer. "Can't we pick up a 30-pack of Blue to show that we've got class?" my son asked. "Joe, you're going to a college town, you have to live with what's cheap" Josh admonished.

Sleeping bags and pillows get tossed into the back of the Blazer and Joe tells me that the house they're staying at is where they'll be partying, so there will be no need to drive anywhere. All appearances are that Joe is very particular about driving and drinking -- I hope that's the case.

And so, Lisa and I are left, alone, for Friday and Saturday night. Cold wine in abundance. "Videos to watch." All the privacy in the world.

So, this is what an empty nest is like. Nice. Very nice. I'm not sure I'm ready for my son to leave home yet, but I sure did enjoy the time alone that Lisa and I had.

Saturday morning I went to Curves first thing and worked out. After I got home, I kept whining "I'm ready for a nap." I was completely wiped out! But then I made some macaroni and cheese for lunch, and perked right up. Lisa and I went out and collected up all the garden ornaments and packed the shed for the winter. Such a depressing task, really, but it was a gorgeous day. Sunny and warm -- we were in t-shirts!

Joe got home around 1:30, looking tired, but said he had a good time. He described himself as "...drank so much I was retarded" on Friday night. I asked him (as I always do, jokingly) if he'd gotten arrested. He said "No, but I did end up at the police station Saturday morning."

Joe (like all my kids) is half Hispanic. Some of his buddies used to call him "Mex" but then, when the movie Joe Dirt came out, his buddies took to calling him Joe Dirt, or Mex Joe Dirt or Joe, the Dirty Mexican. He ended up getting vanity plates for his Blazer that say JOEDIRTE (pronounced deer-tay, like in the movie). Someone stole his rear license plate over the weekend. College party area, vanity plates, no big surprise. If you see him on AOL IM under the pseudonym "Gale Gribble," you'll see that his away message addresses the theft. He's mystified as to why someone would steal a license plate. I figure it was someone else who liked the movie as much as he did.

I'm guessing it's all the working out and walking, but I couldn't just sit still and watch football yesterday. I was up more than I sat, and I fixed homemade soup for dinner as well as a meatloaf to put in the crockpot today. I even baked brownies! I never sat down for an extended period of time until Cold Case came on. Then we watched the second half of Category 7 and called it a night.

I'm down 8 lbs. now since October 1st -- 6 weeks. Boy does that feel good! Last year I got down to 153.5 so I'm shooting to pass that by this time. I figure that, with a year membership at Curves, I'm more likely to stick to it. But I'm only looking at one 10 lb. increment at a time, too.

It's Monday. Yuck. But, the upside is that the sun is brilliant today, and it's almost 50 degrees. Works for me!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shoop Shoop Hula Hoop

Anyone remember that jingle from the commercial? "Oh it's the shoop shoop, a-hula hoop hoop." I woke up this morning with that floating through my head for some odd reason, and I can't get it out! I haven't turned on my Yahoo! music station yet, though, so that should help shoo(p) that noise away.

I think I have all our stuff together now to submit to HR so that I can put Lisa on my health and dental insurance coverage. Amazingly enough, the Vermont Civil union, the New Paltz marriage documents, and the Canadian marriage certificate are not on the list of acceptable documents for proof of more than a year's cohabitation. Fut the wuck?

Lisa worked late last night, and will do so again tonight and tomorrow. Annual inventory. When she got home last night, she had more than 25,000 steps on her pedometer. And the counting hadn't yet started -- that starts today. No wonder her legs and back hurt her so much last night. I massaged her feet for her, and put some Blue Stop on her hips, back, and legs. She'll likely be a hurtin' puppy again tonight. I'm going to get the foot bath/massager out for her tonight so she can soak her feet and just relax.

I put a crockpot of "white chili" on this morning, and Mary is coming over this evening so we can start working on her legal papers. She wants to name Lisa and I as Health Care Proxy for her, and is still adamant about leaving everything to us in her will. I have some software that is absolutely excellent called Will Writer that just sort of walks you through a lot of things. You go through a questionnaire and it recommends the documents you need. It also contains sample letters for contesting debt, requests for raises, and any sort of thing you might think you need -- even a resignation. It's really an excellent product. Of course, it's no substitute for legal advice.

It's only 39 outside today, and we've already had our "high" temperature of 42 this morning. On the way in this morning, we had sleet and they're calling for some possible lake-effect snow this afternoon. Yesterday we had horrific thunderstorms that brought hail the size of lima beans. We've had very high winds in the past few days and, overall, the weather has been very bizarre, even for Western New York. Strangely enough, I'm ready for the snow and ugliness. At least for now.

I've fallen behind the schedule I wanted to keep in my knitting. I'm completely done with Michelle's rug, including finishing up the ends. I need to block it now. I have one more strip to knit for her blanket/throw and then I need to weave all the strips together and block it. That, I'm sure, will be done by Christmas. I won't get little Brandon's blanket done for Christmas unless I take a month off work and do nothing but knit. So, it looks like I'm going to have to move the goal to have it done by his February birthday -- he'll be three!

I was thinking this morning, in the shower, how excited I am to be making this rug/throw combination for Michelle. She is so creative herself, and has given me a lot of things she's made over the years. I even kept the picture she colored for me just 4 or 5 years ago when she was so broke she couldn't even pay attention. She colored a Christmas tree, and wrote on it "To Mom from Michelle." We got a huge laugh out of it, but it still meant a lot to me. Michelle is a person who gives a lot of herself. She and Linda are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Selfless to selfish. Michelle gives and gives and gives of herself, often to her own detriment. Linda gives nothing of herself unless she wants something in return.

She thinks her father farts rose petals and told me that I never did anything for her. I raised the three kids by myself with no physical help from their father for 14 years. I worked part-time jobs so I could have money to spend on Christmas, for cheerleading supplies, or for special events at the school. I sat up nights with them when they were sick, attended every single game they had (whether they were on the sidelines or on the playing field), attended every school function, even attended their friends' funerals with them. I co-signed car loans, but made her make her own payments and pay her own insurance so that she'd learn financial responsibility. I made her help out around the house so that she'd learn to be considerate of others in the household, and learn that there are no free rides in life. Their father wrote a check at the beginning of the month. Period. And I did nothing for her.

I'm sad that I don't see my grandson, or can't talk to him on the phone. I still send him cards and gifts for the holidays and birthdays. I send him about 5 pounds' worth of change each year at Christmas time for his bank -- because I promised that every time I saw him or thought of him, he'd get money for his bank.

The girls all have birthdays coming up, too. Vanessa will be 11, AnaLeise will be 7, and Cherlyn will be 5. Gosh, you turn your back and the little varmints grow up on you! I haven't a clue as to what I'm going to do for them for Christmas. I try to stay away from toys and stuff like that because, between the two oldest girls' father's family, and Doug's mom and grandmother, they get too many toys as it is. So we usually try to do something practical, but still fun. Not sure what that's going to be this year.

Time for some tea -- French Vanilla. Yummy!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Some Days, You Just Gotta Dance

So, I took yesterday and Monday off. I maxed out my leave bank at 40 days and I stopped accruing leave. I figured I needed to burn some time so, because I had appointments both days, figured I'd take them both off.

It's amazing how different I am mentally and physically when I take time off early in the week, as opposed to later in the week. If I take off a Friday, I'm very likely to just sit and vegetate, mostly watching series re-runs of ER, Judging Amy, Law & Order, and NYPD Blue on TNT.

Monday it was very sunny, and warm, and just beautiful. It was partly sunny yesterday, but still warm and enjoyable. Perhaps the weather plays a psychological role. Whatever the stimulant, I feel like I did something while I was off.

Monday I had my annual GYN exam and, after telling the doctor that I'd not seen hide nor hair of my little red-headed cousin since July, she ordered a blood test to determine FSH levels. The results were back by yesterday and I'm told that I'm officially..........POST MENOPAUSAL! YEEHAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Oh, wait, am I supposed to be bummed? Sorry, can't dredge up the sincerity to feel bad about that particular part of getting older. Hehehe

Monday afternoon, I got a letter from a lawyer in Denver, CO. It seems that my ex-husband is filing for bankruptcy in what appears to be an attempt to weasel out of paying child support and the $1500 in arrears he still owes. Makes you wonder if that lawyer advised him that child support is not dischargeable under bankruptcy, doesn't it? ANY support isn't dischargeable, whether it be child support, spousal support, or any other form of domestic support. What a putz my ex is. But then again, this is the same loser that wrote his son a rubber check for Christmas.

I had my hearing tested yesterday, too. After 16 years of copying Morse Code with headphones on, I'd worried that it had affected my hearing. I often have to make Joe repeat himself 3 or 4 times before I understand what he says -- sometimes he gets very annoyed with me. Lisa often has to repeat herself, too, and sometimes she gets annoyed with me as well. I hated that feeling, so I made the appointment.

I came out borderline on some of the uppermost pitch ranges, but have absolutely normal hearing other than that. Most likely, as I suspected, I have difficulty filtering out the "background noise" in my life.

I went to the grocery yesterday and got some Alaskan King Crab legs. It's my special indulgence once a month -- for having quit smoking. I figure a $28 meal for me and Lisa once a month is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than smoking a pack a day, and it's a whole lot healthier, too. So, we each had 4 large crab legs and a tossed salad.

I broke a new "low" in my weight loss efforts, having finally reached the 160 mark. I started out at 167.5 and, ever since I've started the walking thing with my pedometer 6 weeks ago, I've lost an average of just a smide over a pound a week. I do the bulk of my walking during the week at work -- I can make a really good loop around campus without going outside. The problem is, when I'm home (like yesterday and Monday) and the weather is bad, I don't get my walking in like I want to.

So, I went and joined Curves yesterday. They were running a special where the $149 joining fee was 75% off if a one year commitment was signed. So, it cost me $37.25 to join, and it will be $29 a month for the next year. I'm really psyched about this. I'm really motivated by having lost the 7.5 lbs. so far, and I know myself well enough to know that once the weather gets bad, I'm not really likely to do anything outside and inside activities are limited to walking, and then only during the week. Now I have no excuses.

While scanning the electronics section at KMart yesterday, I found a movie I'd been looking for for the better part of 10 years or more. The Jazz Singer, starring Neil Diamond, was released in December of 1980 and, for some reason, hasn't been available for an affordable price until now. This is the movie that contained his hits America, Hello Again, and Love on the Rocks. While he's only done a small appearance in Saving Silverman since then, I still loved him in this movie. He made it believable and, in some ways, it's mirrored his life. Of course, Neil Diamond is my all-time favorite singer.

I've not seen hide nor hair (literally or figuratively) of rodent presence since they tore my office apart to clean the air handlers and shampoo the carpets. It's gotten pretty cool outside so the bees and dormant and we most likely won't be seeing anything of them until spring again. It's raining like we're in the middle of typhoon season and, so far, no sign of any leaking water in the office at the current time.

I'm tellin' ya -- it's the simple pleasures in life. No mice, no bees, no water, no period, good videos, and weight loss.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Look at what I bought Lisa for Christmas!





















Isn't it just WONDERFUL???

It's called "Lovers Embrace." It was a toss-up between that one, and this one:




















I ended up buying the first one because it just seemed like it had a lot of passion...or something. Both are beautiful, and both are of two women -- heck, maybe I'll get the second one for Valentine's Day or something.

Rate your life

Thanks to RuthAnn for this:

Rate your life.

My results:

This Is My Life, Rated
Life:
6.7
Mind:
6.6
Body:
7.3
Spirit:
5.2
Friends/Family:
6.3
Love:
9.1
Finance:
7.3
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

OUCH!

I told my primary care physician today that, as long as she has me for a patient, there will always be a house and a pool.

Last night, I offered to help Mary move her home gym from downstairs to upstairs which, of course, required us to disassemble it, move it, and reassemble it. We were very careful to disassemble it in a way that we'd be able to remember how it went back together and not screw up the pulley system (or we'd have never figured that out again). It came with 20 10 lb. weights and I took the liberty of claiming them for myself, as far as moving them. I carried 3 at a time, up the stairs. Figured it would provide me with a relatively decent workout, and add to my step count for the day.

So, we got everything up the stairs without any real issues and, by the time Lisa arrived home at 6:00, we had just the main piece to haul up -- and it took the 3 of us to do it based on the fact that we only partially disassembled it which made it awkward and heavy. We stopped for pizza around 7:30 and got back to work. We had the mutha almost put back together, and were working on the last big part of it. It had a long post that bolted to the bottom rail and, as I kneeled to see if the holes where the bolts go were lined up, I had my left hand in front of the post, and the left behind it. I gave it a nudge with my right hand to get it forward just a hair, but the damned thing slid forward and caught my left ring finger right at the tip.

I was instantly bruised under the nail and, when I looked at the finger pad, it was completely black. Clearly the blood had pooled up under the skin. We finished up and went home, and I tried to ice it, but the ice made such bone-chilling cold on the finger, it hurt -- bad.

So, I went to the doc this afternoon, figuring it should probably be looked at, as it's still VERY painful. She sent me for x-rays and the tech showed me on the computer monitor where it looks like there may be a small fracture in the bone near the tip of the finger. She said the doctor's monitor is much better and he'll be better able to determine if there's any problem there.

Now, lesbians shouldn't hurt their digits. Know whut I mean? Fortunately for me, it's on the left hand and I'm right-handed.

Just how bad is it when they know you on sight at the x-ray clinic? In the past 5 years, I've been there for a dislocated pinkie, a wrecked knee, a destroyed finger, a good attempt at breaking my foot over the summer, and now this. They were bustin' on me today telling me they were going to name a hallway at the x-ray clinic after me, give me my own personal exam room. Funny...

Yeah, real funny...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Up for a challenge?

This is an invitation to join me and others in getting off our tookas and moving. The concept is simple – you simply measure/count the number of steps you take each day, log your progress, and strive to increase your total number of steps each day. There is a web site that I have created a group on, and the name of the group is “NY Whine Trail” – you can register for free and then sign up for a “walking route.” There are several routes and the goal is to complete the route in a 6 week period. As an example, there is route 50 across the US, starting on the east coast and ending up on the west coast. Each 100 steps equates to a “program mile,” while each 2,000 equates, approximately, to a real mile. Your program miles are calculated after you log them in, and your progress on your route is shown on a map. As an example, in 15 days I made it from Connecticut to Kansas (using “program miles”).

There is no daily time commitment, there is no commitment to anyone but yourself, to get up and move. Walk with a friend or neighbor after work, walk with a co-worker during the lunch hour, or walk by yourself several times during the day. The idea is to walk, and measure your steps. Why the group? Support. Accountability, if you want it, to someone else. Encouragement. Motivation. Name it.

Once you’ve logged 3 days’ steps, the web site will tell you what your “baseline” steps are, and then give you a goal to reach (per day) based on the route that you’ve selected as part of the program. To register, follow these instructions:

1. Go to www.americaonthemove.org
2. Click "Join Now"
3. Select "Individual" registration4.
Use Registration Code: RNY39872
5. Finish registering

You’ll need a pedometer to participate. These can be found at Wegmans, WalMart, Kmart, Eckerd, and most sporting goods stores. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on one, you don’t need bells and sirens and whistles, just something that counts your steps. If you want to pay extra for something fancy, go for it, but you really don’t need it.

Eckerd sells “Omron” pedometers, and they run about $15 or so. They have a 7 day memory so you can see what you did the day before or (unlike me) you have access to the prior day’s information without having to chant those numbers to yourself over and over on your morning commute so you can remember them to log them in.

My own pedometer is a dual function one, that doubles as a “computer” or speedometer for my bike. I think I paid about $20 for it, but as I said, it’s a dual function. It measures time, distance, calories burned, etc.

Whatever pedometer you get, buy something to tie it or pin it onto your clothing with, as pedometers have a habit of coming loose from wherever they’re clipped, and they get lost. I would suggest a piece of ribbon tied firmly around the clip, then pinned to the inside of your pocket or the underside of the bottom of your shirt.

Why all the walking? Well, I accepted a challenge at work, under a program called “Walktober” and, in just 3 weeks, I lost 6½ pounds. But better than that, I went from a not-too-snug size 14 down to a loose-fitting size 12. I did nothing more. No dieting. No depriving myself of the things I love. Just the walking. But, I made walking a huge part of my day. THAT was the big change, and the key thing to my weight loss success.

So, what do you have to lose? Sign up, and give it a whirl. If you have a friend that you know you can walk with, invite your friend to register, too. I’ve “reserved” space for a lot of people in this group, so it’s open to anyone who wants to participate. Have a cyber buddy you want to include? Invite them along, too.

If you have any questions, drop me a line.

Sing me a lullaby


Sleep.

Need Sleep.

Want Sleep Badly!


I finally got my referral from the health insurance company in the mail, and called the sleep study clinic and they said they could see me this coming Monday at 11:00. The problem with that was that I have my annual GYN appointment Monday at 11:00 and it takes 3 months to get in to see that doctor for the annual exams. And, since it's been 3½ months since my little red-headed cousin last visited, and the Dr. told me if I missed it for 3 months to come in and see her, I'm not willing to postpone that appointment for another 3 months. So, the soonest they can get me into the sleep clinic after Monday is January 16th.

I've had tremendous difficulty finding simple, everyday words. I lose my train of thought mid-sentence, and don't remember what I was talking about. Apparently these are classic symptoms of sleep deprivation.

I've had RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) for as long as I can remember. I can remember being a small child and having this huge energy buildup in my legs that got to where I had to move them in order to find any relief. However, Lisa often comments that my arms jerk around at night just as much as my legs, and often in rhythmic fashion. Through my online research, I've discovered that there is, in fact, a "partner" condition called PLMD (Periodic Limb Movement Disorder) in which other parts of the body move and jerk around during sleep. While I've always been aware of the RLS, I'd never been aware of any other body movements when I slept. (But then gain, I've never stayed awake at night to see if I jerk and lurch around in my sleep, either.) Lisa described one night's movements as those like you would use to dig a hole. I had surmised that this phenomenon was more likely due to a pinched or over-pressured nerve while I slept with my arm over her. Apparently not.

Monday, I was exhausted at work. I ended up leaving at 2:30 because it was too much of an effort to keep my head from just falling on the keyboard and just passing out right there. With enormous difficulty, I fought to stay up until 8:30, when I couldn't stand it any more. I went to bed, and Lisa went with me. I remember watching the opening kickoff of Monday night football at 9:00, but don't remember anything else. Yesterday morning I told Lisa "I passed out last night!" and she said "Yep, you did, almost immediately. And you sawed wood and ran marathons all night long."

That explains why I felt so frickin' tired when I got up yesterday morning.

Lately I've been wondering if a mild sleep aid would help. I knew a woman whose husband took Ambien and she said that it was very mild and apparently non-habit forming. Most importantly, it apparently is mild enough that you don't wake up feeling groggy or hung over in the morning. I told Lisa that if I only took it once or twice a week, I think that would be an enormous improvement, if it helps me get rest while I sleep.

The treatment modalities for PLMD and RLS are usually benzodiazepenes, Parkinsons' meds (which typically contain dopamine), or narcotics. The benzodiazepenes are noted for causing aggressiveness, irritability, argumentative behavior, forgetfulness and confusion. I'm already forgetful and confused, and I'm taking Prozac for the other side-effects that can be experienced with the benzodiazepenes. So, they seem pointless.

The anti-Parkinson's meds are just about the same, causing psychiatric side-effects, as well as other undesired physical ones.

All that's left, then, are narcotics. Codeine, oxycodone, methadone, and propoxyphene seem to be the most common ones used for PLMD and RLS. Codeine in any of its forms makes me yak. And yak. And yak. The oxycodone *might* be a suitable drug that I can tolerate, but who the hell wants to take a fistful of pills in the morning, anyway?

I guess, in a perfect world, what I'd like is some sort of physical therapy, physical activity, exercise, something that I can do to lessen the severity of the RLS and PLMD so that I can sleep better. I'd also like to know why, all of a sudden, it's gotten this bad. I've had it from time to time throughout my life, and would have only needed one finger to count the number of episodes I had each month. Now, nary a night goes by that I'm not jerking and lurching around, either before I sleep, or during my sleep.

Stress. Yeah, that's probably a big part of it. I joke about the mice, the bees, the rainwater seeping in, no heat, no help, stuff like that, but clearly it's gotten to me to the point where it's exacerbated the condition(s). On the up side is the fact that I can sleep as much as I want on the weekends, and lately, that's exactly what I do. I stay in bed until I feel rested enough to get up, and I feel rested for the remainder of the day because I allow myself to do that -- not a luxury I can afford during the course of the work day.

So, what am I supposed to do between now and January 16th? At what point does this affect my health severely enough that something bad happens?

This past weekend, they tore apart the air conditioning handlers (big metal "box-like" units running the length/width of the office) and found some spots where they thought I might be leaking rain. It's possible I was leaking mice through those spots, too because, now that they've caulked and sealed them up, I've not seen hide nor hair (or, in this case, droppings) of the little varmints. The weather is turning colder and the bees in the bathroom are now so lethargic that they're staying in the same spot for more than 24 hours. Nature will resolve that issue, I suppose. I've got heat, finally, today. Now all I need is help in the office.

Perhaps just getting my work environment back on track will be all that I need -- until the next stressful time, that is.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Karma

Ever really wonder if there is such a thing as karma? Generally speaking, karma is defined as "(in the Buddhist and Hindu religions) the force produced by a person's actions in one of their lives which influences what happens to them in their future lives." In more common terms, it can be defined as a) the law of cause and effect; b) what goes around comes around; c) you reap what you sow; d) totally innocent victims are rare; e) no good deed goes unpunished; or f) your actions create ripples that spread out, echo and constructively/destructively interfere with the ripples from the actions of others. You've heard the terms good karma and bad karma, I'm sure. Sometimes we see things in our daily lives that make us wonder if there really is such a thing as karma or, in some cases, poetic justice.

~~~~~Driving Karma~~~~~
I commute on an expressway system each day. I take an east-west expressway from my house until it connects to a north-south one. This morning, as happens every morning, the feeder ramp from the east-west to the north-south was congested, full of morning commuters. You can't be a wuss merging into traffic at this point -- people around here are discourteous, arrogant, and often extremely aggressive. I always turn on my signal to let the traffic in the slow lane already on the expressway know that I intend to merge in. I allow them opportunity to take their foot off the accelerator and just let me in. I've found this to be highly effective, for the most part. All too often though, as soon as I turn on that signal, instead of backing off, they accelerate, afraid I'm going to get to the traffic jam 10 feet ahead before them. And there's always a stoppage of traffic there -- that's why the feeder ramp is always so clogged up.

Anyway, this morning we're sitting on that feeder ramp, as always, waiting patiently to get to the merge point when, in my rearview mirror, I see a black Audi screaming up the shoulder of the feeder ramp. Clearly this man's time was more valuable than anyone else's on that ramp or the expressway. He slingshotted by, doing at least 50 if not more. I mean, he really rocketed past us. I looked in my rearview and saw the man in the car behind me just shaking his head. I muttered something about the Audi driver being an arrogant putz, and turned my attention back to the merge.

I merged into the slow lane without any problem and, as I always do, waited for a gap in the center lane so I could merge left. Typically, when there's a gap, it's filled from the rear of a line of traffic rather than the front. So, several cars behind me merged left and it was finally my turn. I was able to accelerate up to the speed limit and noted that the slow lane/merge lane was barely moving. There sat that black Audi behind a car being "taken for a walk" by a blue-hair, and not one person in the center lane allowed any distance between themselves and the car ahead of them, even though that putz in the Audi had his blinker on and clearly needed to go faster than the crawl he was already going. But, what I realized gave me the best belly laugh anyone could have on a morning commute. Everyone was intentionally blocking the putz in and some even were offering him the ol' one finger salute!

OK, so maybe it was childish and meaningless, but I went along with the crowd and blocked him in and, as I went by him, I smiled sweetly and waved. Thought that was more effective.

~~~~~Heart Karma~~~~~
Lisa's mother had open heart surgery back in May to clear out a lot of blockages in the valves leading to and from her heart, caused by her diabetes. Then she had to have the ol' roto-rooter done on one of her carotid arteries (the other one was completely blocked, and apparently they can do nothing about it).

It was difficult for Lisa -- I mean, that's her *MOM*! Her mother is doing considerably better, but still has some difficulties with discomfort from the surgery.

About 3 weeks ago now, I posted about her grandmother having fainted and subsequently needing a pacemaker installed. Grandma Ruth is doing well too (as I updated just yesterday).

In the meantime, Lisa's *father* underwent testing where it was determined that he, too, needed a pacemaker. That procedure was done yesterday afternoon and, the last we heard, he was doing well.

Lisa has a customer who orders stuff from her place of employment and, through a "gentlemen's agreement" she brings the stuff home, and Lee comes to pick it up at our house. He and his wife are really nice people, and they often stay and chat for quite a while. On Friday of last week, Lee called Lisa and told her that he'd not make it over on the weekend to pick up something he'd ordered and asked her to bring home. It seems that his father had a major heart attack, and didn't survive it. Lee had funeral arrangements to make, and other things to attend to.

Apparently, on Saturday, Lee's wife (Kathy) and daughter made a huge batch of peanut brittle, then went shopping, then drove over to her brother's place to deliver some peanut brittle. The brother opened the door, and Kathy collapsed in his arms. Kathy's brother *and* his son are both EMTs and they reacted quickly -- which is why Kathy's still alive today. She'd suffered a major heart attack and did not awaken until yesterday. They had, on hand, an A.E.D. (Automated External Defibrillator).

Lisa and I were trained on this equipment when we took our C.E.R.T. training last year. We were immediately sold on the idea of having an AED available in the home. This piece of equipment gives step by step instructions, both in writing and with audio prompts, on its use. It's easy, uncomplicated, and highly effective. All the user needs to know is CPR. If you can afford one ($200-$2,000) get one. If you use it only once, and save a life, it's paid for itself.

~~~~~Stupid Karma~~~~~
MEDFORD, Oregon (AP) -- A woman bought a winning lottery ticket worth $1 million with a stolen credit card and could wind up with nothing if convicted, police said.

Christina Goodenow, 38, of White City in southern Oregon faced numerous theft-related charges, forgery and possession of methamphetamine, said authorities, who searched her home Thursday. The card belonged to a deceased relative, they said.

If convicted of any of the charges, Goodenow will not be able to collect prize money from the winning ticket, said police Lt. Tim George.

Oregon Lottery officials refused to discuss specifics of the case because an investigation is still under way.

"I'll be fascinated to see how this shakes out," Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann said. "In my 12 years with the Oregon Lottery, this is the first time I've encountered something like this."

Goodenow purchased the winning ticket October 9 using a credit card that had belonged to her mother-in-law, who died more than a year ago, police said.

Goodenow traveled to Oregon Lottery headquarters in Salem on October 12 to accept an installment payment of $33,500. The $1 million grand prize is paid out over 20 years.

Detectives began tracking Goodenow on Wednesday after learning that she had used the credit card to purchase several items, including the ticket.

A search warrant served at her home Thursday turned up some methamphetamine, but little money, George said.

"Our investigation is still trying to determine what happened to the $33,500," George said.


~~~~~Patsy (Putzy?) Karma~~~~~


Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, resigned
today after a federal grand jury indicted him on five counts related to the CIA
leak investigation. Cheney said in a statement he accepted Libby's resignation
"with deep regret" and said Libby must be "presumed innocent" unless he is
proven guilty. (CNN)


White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove escaped indictment in the CIA leak
case Friday but remained under investigation. (CNN)
Well, someone has to take the fall, eh?

~~~~~Cosmic Karma~~~~~

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Actor George Takei, best known for his role as
Mr. Hikaru Sulu in "Star Trek," has come out publicly. He made the announcement in the current issue of LA gay magazine Frontiers.

Takei told The Associated Press on Thursday that his new onstage role as
psychologist Martin Dysart in "Equus," helped inspire him to publicly discuss
his sexuality. Takei described the character as a "very contained but
turbulently frustrated man." The play opened Wednesday at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Los Angeles, the same day that Frontiers magazine featured a story on Takei's coming out.

The current social and political climate also motivated Takei's disclosure, he said.

"The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay," he said. "The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young." (365gay.com)

For all you "Trekkies" out there that are "family," there's a book out there, published SEVEN years ago that has homosexual characters! *GASP* While all the generations of the Star Ship Enterprise claimed to have traveled "where no man has gone before," they apparently didn't have the cajones to produce it in other than written form. With all the various cultures that were introduced, along with the concept of acceptance of *all* life forms, it turns out that they weren't all that afraid of the Borg. It was the queers.

~~~~~VERY BAD KARMA~~~~~

What awaits the little furry invaders in my office this weekend, when the facilities crew comes in to tear apart the air conditioning vent to find the hole(s) where the little buggers are coming in. They're also hoping to find where the water is leaking into the office, too. Oh, and, figure out why I'm not getting any heat.

~~~~~VERY GOOD KARMA~~~~~

What awaits me when I pop the cork on that bottle of wine tonight...